In space no one can hear you scream, so the saying goes, but no one told those aboard the Elysium, the giant spaceship in director Christian Alvart’s horror/sci-fi Pandorum, which is reverberating with all manner of interstellar-shrieking. With the Earth’s population reaching insupportable levels, mankind begins exploring the outer regions of space for planets that could support human life, discovering Tanis as a suitable new home. So begins the colonisation of said extraterrestrial outpost but as anyone familiar with the settlers of LV-426 will well know, what seems such a straightforward operation at the outset will prove to be anything but.
Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster’s lieutenant Payton and Corporal Bower respectively wake from deep hypersleep aboard the Elysium, with no memory of how long they have been there, why they are there, why there is no power and certainly with no explanation as to why they’re seemingly the only two bods on board. Their loneliness is short-lived, mind, with Bower making off for the bridge, burrowing through air ducts, pipes and clambering his way through the barren ship, hoping to find answers but instead encountering, en route, sights, sounds and crawler-esque mutations that would leave even a Reaver from the ’verse cowering in terror.
Alvart wears his influences on his sleeve and Pandorum borrows liberally from the Alien franchise, Barry Levinson’s Sphere and Event Horizon, which is unsurprising with the presence of a certain Paul WS Anderson as producer. Stylistically it is a dour affair, with dark, gloomy corridors, sketchy, confused, in-fighting characters, and some brutal lashings of violence, but Alvart sews it all together with some well-developed suspense and he controls the pacing well, the film moving with purpose through a succession of reveals as the fate of the ship’s 60,000 crew is unveiled. The problem, ultimately, is that it is nothing that hasn’t been done before, and the lack of invention and identity leaves this hapless ship floating aimlessly in space.
Well-paced and boasting impressive production design and a decidedly gloomy atmosphere, but execution, no matter how efficient, is no match for originality.